A good ways into Week 2 of NANO and I am finally getting the opportunity to sit down and consider lessons from week 1 to keep me moving forward during the pressure of week 2.
1. The most fun I’ll ever have during NANO (aside from the 50000th word) is during the first week. All bets are off here. I can create until my heart is content. Everything is new and exciting, each twist and turn a new revelation. Its all one big exciting adventure with nothing but the unknown ahead.
2. The best-laid plans go to hell when all parties involved have other ideas. This idea may not apply to everyone. I tend to be a pantser, and this is exactly why. All of that pre-planning can go out the window when characters are in charge. I’m fortunate enough that they tell me how the story begins and how it ends but anything in-between is revealed on their whims not mine.
3. Let it go, let it go, let it go. Okay, so letting it go applies to those so called best-laid plans. Sometimes, you just have to let them go. Week 1 is the best time to do that. The initial investment is small at this point. A whole world hasn’t been build into the story for the characters to decide they don’t want to be in the desert, they’d prefer a garden of Eden on a space station in a galaxy far far way.
4. No looking back. Literally. For NANO, the entire point is to keep looking ahead with no editing, no review, and definitely no trying to make everything fit in this nice little linear structure. If the story changes directions, go with it. If a new character appears our of nowhere, introduce yourselves and grant them permission to run amuck. Save the editing for later. You may have to cut, you may have to add, nothing wrong with rearranging the world, but week 1 of NANO isn’t the place to doit.
5. Don’t get bogged down in the details; use them in the process. I consider myself a literary writer though my books are sometimes viewed as popular fiction. But there is a vast difference in literary writing and standard accepted popular fiction. Much of that is about the detail. The literary reader likes the detail. We like to have a full spectrum of experience. The mood is set with flowery descriptions intended to draw us into a world. Setting becomes its own character singing a siren’s song that drives the plot and the character. It’s those details that can pad the word count as the descriptions go on and on about the fluttering of the wings of a butterfly or the gentle lapping of waves against the white sand of the beach stealing away grains with the passage of time (the short man’s version is the word erosion). For NANO, feel free to play with these flowery descriptions. Add as much texture as you can to the emotions of the characters or the setting. Allow yourself to hear, smell, taste, and experience the world you’ve created on the page whether it is entirely fictitious or a real place. And by all means, pad that word count.
6. Numbers are king. Remember, this is all about quantity. While quality may suffer (and that is okay. Again editing is part of the overall writing process) NANO is about the numbers; reaching that 50K word goal. Week one is an opportunity to dive into your project with full force. Bury your head in the sand and bang out as much as possible. Getting ahead of that “average daily amount to finish on time” can be a great tool when week 2 and 3 roll around and you’re losing steam (or you’ve pissed off your characters so much they’ve gone into hiding to teach you a lesson about who is really in charge).
I never know what week two will hold and try my best not to think about week 3. But when I feel like I need to go back in my story I can take these lessons as my “go back to” for NANO with the hopes of continuing to move forward on my NANO journey.